Glass half full

It might not have been while driving across North Dakota or when it was snowing so hard in Minneapolis we closed the bookstore up early.  But most other days hold promises that are fulfilled.  Smiths Grove, KY which has a population under a thousand welcomed the bookstore heartedly.  Local librarians, older women, young couples, a business man, a pastor are just some of the folks who stopped by, bought books, bought Tour tshirts, talked about their lives. Processed with MOLDIV

Asheville seemed problematic for a bit because was it really the best parking space for a bookstore?  Then a man stopped by with a magical tarot deck.  An employee at French Broad Co-op gave us ideas for a better place to park.  We began meeting locals and tourists.  We met Thomas from Battery Park Book Exchange and Champagne Bar. Lucy and her mom stopped by as part of her eighth birthday celebration.  We found a small vase of flowers at the farmers market that fit our space.  Cybele introduced us to new people and invited young women to visit the bookstore.

Just when it seemed we might not have enough inventory left after numerous sales, a philosopher stopped by. Studying Kierkegaard,  he’s nearly finished getting his doctorate. He just happened to have some books in his car that he donated to the bookstore. When we rolled into Raleigh, a friend there gave us more.  And the family we stayed with gave us more.  With the bookstore bursting at the seams, we are ready for eastern Carolina, West Virgina and points farther west.

Our partners along the way have been so gracious.  The Moog Store found us a good parking space and let us try a theremin. Nickelpoint Brewery seemed a bit quiet and then we met a couple getting married this coming November.  The theme for their wedding?  Books! Isabel’s Family Restaurant and Woodstock’s Atrocious Poets made even a chilly day glow when we set up in Illinois.

And really this is all just frosting on the particular cake.  What collective adjective can capture the wonderful stories shared, the conversations held standing by the bookstore in these places? It is always difficult to describe exactly the goal of this traveling bookstore, but those of us working this venue benefit greatly from the discussions people bring our way.  Thank you.


From home to the bookstore

It is still the beginning. The bookstore left Eureka last Wednesday.  By late that afternoon, it made it to Bozeman, MT for the first bookstore tour event which was at Wildrye Distillery.  Quite the opening with old friends, new friends, and people who happened to pass by, who were curious and lingered.A38D0EE1-F225-48EB-968B-BA7C8044BA4C

Then miles of road across Montana and N. Dakota.  Rain and snow and sun, mountains and plains.  A beautiful full moon. Some questions arose. Why is the place we ate in Custer, MT called the Junction City Saloon?   Some questions answered. Fargo, ND has a population of about 120,000 with Microsoft being the largest employer.  Had a wonderful meal in that city at Passage to India. 

Some new experiences.  A person passing the bookstore on I-94 took photos and posted them on social media.  A woman who saw the bookstore in Glendive wrote inviting us to set up there the next time we pass through. Although typically the bookstore is parked in winter months, in N. Dakota there was the challenge of driving on ice.

Tomorrow the bookstore sets up at the Birchwood Cafe. Then on to Illinois, Kentucky, and N. Carolina.  So many more adventures waiting to happen.  So many new people to meet, stories to hear.  The bookstore shifts into a new realm this season. So many new horizons.

Count down to take off

The traveling bookstore has been around.  It set up on a street corner in Brooklyn, New York and in a field in Yaak, Montana. It has been visited by cool kids, hipsters, grooving elders, cowboys, cops, waitresses and parents with babies.  And now it is setting off on a crazy cross country adventure that is bound to push the envelope even farther.  If you don’t have time to read this entire post, here are the bare facts of where we will be so you don’t miss out:

3/28  Bozeman, MT    Wildrye Distillery 6-8collins05
4/2  Minneapolis, MN    Birchwood Cafe 9-3
4/4  Woodstock, IL  Isabel’s Family Restaurant 10-1
4/5  Indianapolis, IN  Coal Yard Coffee  9-3
4/6  Smiths Grove, KY  Quarter Moon Antiques 10-1
4/7  Asheville, NC  French Broad Food Co-op 10-3
4/8  Asheville, NC  French Broad Food Co-op 10-3
4/9  Asheville, NC  Moog Store 10-1
4/10 Raleigh, NC  Nickelpoint Brewery 5-9
4/11 Raleigh, NC  Nickelpoint Brewery  5-9
4/12  Raleigh, NC  Lonerider Brewery  2-9
4/13  Wake Forest, NC  Page 158 Books 12 – 8
4/16  Morgantown, WV  Fawley Music 9-2
4/20  Sheridan, WY  Studio Cafe  10-2
4/20  Sheridan, WY  Black Tooth Brewery 4-7
It might strike you as ambitious that a rather unpretentious bookstore carrying about six hundred volumes with a 132 inch (335cm) wheelbase is willing to set up in all these places including the urban clatter of Minneapolis and the small town calm of Smiths Grove, KY.  And, needless to say, a traveling bookstore deals with details your average brick-and-mortar shop rarely considers – like the oil change by the time we pull into Asheville.  Storage is quite limited and mostly given over to books, a manual typewriter, a small folding table, some folding chairs, a theremini and a spare tire.  While sorting out where the bookstore will set up (a major thank you to the businesses that agreed to partner with us on this trip!), we also figure out where to spend the night.  There have been times when I sleep in the bookstore especially after some remote Montana events.  On this trip though there will usually be two of us traveling so more space is required then the one aisle between fiction and biographies.
No doubt this is going to be a buffalo size adventure.  Hope that you are able to stop by to visit. And just in case you aren’t in these regions of the country during March/April, the summer bookstore tour to Washington, Oregon and California is already taking shape.



Mark your calendar

It is getting so close.  The bookstore pulls out of Eureka, MT on March 28 and sets up that evening at the Wildrye Distillery in Bozeman.  A great send off on this cross country bookstore tour.  By Apbookstoreril 2, the bookstore will be in Minneapolis at the Birchwood Cafe.  Then on to Woodstock, IL to set up at Isabel’s Family Restaurant on April 4.  Then on to Indianapolis, Smiths Grove, Asheville, Raleigh, Wake Forest etc.  WOW!  The bookstore has been cleaned from top to bottom, stocked with lots of wonderful reads.   It had a tune up and tires checked so ready for the road.  New tshirts to commemorate this Grand 2018 Tour and greeting cards are stored safely in the back until we get to where we open the doors.  Friends will join me on different parts of this tour which is over 5,000 miles. Ya’aqov will start out and then in Minneapolis turn over the co-piloting to Brittany,  In Indianapolis, Jana joins the tour and has been practicing the theremin so she is ready for our debut at the Moog Store in Asheville.

Quite the adventure and hope that friends, fans, family and all those folks we haven’t met yet will stop by to check out the most amazing traveling bookstore in the US.


Love that learning

I usually enjoy learning.  The process of someone explaining to me how to make a new type of food, or how to say a special word in another language, or coming to know interesting bits of history is fascinating. I like to learn about new places and new books.  I like to meet people who have had experiences different from mine.  I like to learn to sing new songs and to try new foods.  And I even like the concept of learning those harder things – how to be patient, to be compassionate, how to count to ten before getting angry. I want to learn them in a way that has them come naturally to me in those edgier moments. IMG_2236

Some things are definitely harder for me to learn. I haven’t learned how to enjoy sorting through boxes of books. Which seems like it would be an easy thing because after all I like reading so much.  But boxes and boxes and boxes of books which is the current state of things in my warehouse/garage does not bring joy.  Rather I put the task of sorting them off.  Yesterday some friends stopped by and the youngest in the group climbed up into a chair to read while the adults did their talking.  Her satisfaction with books and the look she gave when I asked what she was reading was just enough to get me started on those boxes today.  I interpreted her look to mean, “How can you possibly hope to take that bookstore across country when you can’t even organize the books to find which ones to take with you?”

Alright, young Madeline.  I am on it.  I am taking your love for reading and my enthusiasm for taking a well-stocked bookstore thousands of miles on the next trip to heart.  I will start sorting boxes today.

Still winter

No doubt about it. It is still winter in this part of Montana.  Snow is piling up, a winter storm warning is in effect and so an ideal time to stay indoors doing bookish things.  I spend part of the day tracking down venues for the Grand 2018 North Carolina and Back Traveling Bookstore Tour.  Some towns seem friendlier than other at welcoming the thought of an amazing pop up bookstore.  I am confident that I will have all venues set for this trip when it occurs in April.  In between sending out these emails, messages and making phone calls though, I read.  Winter in Montana is perfect for that although I suspect I would read just as much if I happened to be in Orlando or Texas or Madagascar. IMG_1131

I imagine others have a habit similar to mine. I don’t read one book at a time. I chose from a pile. Actually two. One pile is next to the bed, the other by my favorite chair in the living room. When I curl up in either place, I peruse the nearest pile and pull out the book that is most appealing in that moment.  It could be poetry, it could be nonfiction. It could be the book I need to finish for book club next week or the one Dawn lent me that I promised to get back to her soon.  If a particular book stays in a pile too long, I take it as a sign that it should be put back on the shelf, returned to the owner or recycled in the bookstore.  Surprisingly the piles never get smaller.

Truth be told, on these snowy days I would rather read then look for venues. Once I am on the road – I am enthralled with the life of a traveling bookstore owner.  It’s this challenge though to explain to people hundreds of miles away about the very minimal needs of a traveling bookstore and the numerous benefits of having it set up right there where you can see it, come inside and smell the books.  I suspect they think it’s a flimflam operation. There was mention of a criminal background check by a municipality in Illinois.  A parking space and a wee bit of pavement is all I ask.  I truly don’t need much and look at all you get in exchange!  A van full of wonderful used books to brighten the lives of the citizens in your community.  An opportunity to try a manual typewriter with a fresh ribbon and to experiment with a solar-powered theremin.  Who wouldn’t want a traveling bookstore to set up on your tree lined street?  Or in a parking lot adjacent to your wonderful cafe/pub/restaurant/typewriter repair store?

Fortunately I can do both on this snowy afternoon. I send out a few emails, respond to questions (“Will you need to plug into power?” No. “Does your bookstore serve any food or beverages?” No.). Then I take a break in the red chair by the window, watch the snow fall and pull out a book that matches this moment.


Good fortune

I have some sort of addiction to fortune cookies.  Not the cookies themselves – a bit too sweet usually, but to the small rectangular fortunes found inside.  When given a cookie after a meal at Sumi’s Kitchen, a great local place, I immediately break it open to get the news.  Regardless of what that day’s particular fortune might be, it always seems relevant.  I have one that I taped to the back of my phone that reads, “Your road to glory will be rocky but fulfilling. Be patient.”  I have no idea what the particular glory might be but I do believe the road will be rocky (I live in Montana after all) and patience is a characteristic I have been working years to achieve.IMG_2101

Yesterday’s fortune was “Take that chance you’ve been considering.”  Now how could anyone read that without feeling hopeful?  Aren’t there numerous considerations roiling about in my mind that I could take a chance on? Is this cookie’s fortune specific to one or to any of the ideas that I have been considering of late? Does it refer to the traveling bookstore business and the upcoming Grand 2018 to North Carolina and Back Tour?  There is an opportunity to set up the bookstore for a day in Smiths Grove, KY.  That town is a bit small but don’t people in small towns deserve an opportunity to get great buys on a wonderful selection of used books?  Or is it my idea to set up in Sheridan, WY on the way back in late April but where exactly?  There aren’t any easy contacts in Sheridan so it would be a matter of cold calling someone.  Is that the chance?

Or maybe its the suggestion I run for county commissioner?  Not that it is a serious consideration but perhaps fortune cookies don’t make those distinctions.  A consideration is a consideration. Consider it and take a chance. So perhaps this particular fortune is about upping the game.  We all take chances every time we get up in the morning, walk out the front door, get in a car, meet a new person.  Maybe this fortune means to take a chance on a wilder consideration.  Taking a teaching job in Romania back in 2002 or starting a traveling bookstore might have been considerations/chances but each had a safety net of sorts.  Maybe this fortune cookie gives the message that sometimes its important to take chances on considerations that are a bit scarier.  Maybe that is how we continue to grow as individuals.